They toured extensively in Europe and the United States during
the early 1970s, with two U.S. tours during their first year,
performing at most of the major venues and festivals of the day
including Newport, Reading, Fillmore East (November 10, 1970, sharing the billing with Black Sabbath and Small Faces) and
Fillmore West, Whisky A Go-Go, and The Marquee.
They also shared billings with, amongst others, Miles Davis,
Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Leon Russell as well as many
of the classic rock bands of the day, such as Traffic, Yes,
Grand Funk Railroad, Ten Years After, Kiss, Dr. Hook and
the Medicine Show, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
IF thus became one of the most highly acclaimed groups of
the Seventies to never quite make the big time, despite good
record sales and full venues.
The band was managed and its albums produced by
Lew Futterman, who had previously produced US jazz/soul stars Brother Jack McDuff and J.J. Jackson, among others.
Signed on by Chris Blackwell, an enthusiastic early fan, to Island Records in the UK and to Capitol Records in the US, their debut album, IF (1970), entered the charts in both the States (Billboard)
and the UK, as well as winning a design award for its cover.
It was followed that same year by IF 2, also released on Island
The albums IF 3 (1971), IF 4 and Waterfall (1972) were
accompanied by heavy touring schedules in the States and
Europe, especially in Britain and Germany, where the band
appeared on TV (BBC’s Top of the Pops/Old Grey Whistle Test
in the UK and one of their tracks was used as a signature tune
for the news in Germany, as well as performing live
(September 1971) on Bremen TV's Beat-Club, sharing the
billing with Canned Heat and Deep Purple, among other acts).
Finally, following such intensive recording and touring schedules,
in the summer of 1972, the band had to come off the road in
the middle of a US tour when Dick Morrissey was admitted
to hospital for major surgery.
As a result of the break-up, the band members went off to
work on other projects.
Their unique brand of jazz-rock and Hodgkinson's original
playing was a hit at their regular venue: the Lion Inn on
Blakey Ridge, Yorkshire.
However, record labels were not keen and the band were
repeatedly told "No singer, no contract".
Ever the innovators, the band decided to record their first
It was recorded on a 4-track Ampex mixing console in
eight hours, and mixed in four hours the next day.
Around 1,000 copies were first printed by RCA.
The album was sold over the bar at The Lion Inn, and at
a few record shops in the local area.
A copy of the record somehow made its way to the NME
headquarters in London, and a superb review by
Charles Shaar Murray was printed.
After a few more reviews, the band passed an interview,
and began playing a regular slot at The Senate in Peterlee,
despite Aspery snapping a key off his saxophone moments
before the audition.
The band's popularity increased when they were asked
to play a two-week stint at Ronnie Scott's club in London,
opening for Chick Corea, a run that was eventually
lengthened to three weeks.
The record companies changed their tune, and after
receiving many offers, the trio decided to sign with
The band rejected an offer from Richard Branson
(who was just starting up Virgin Records at the time)
because, according to Hodgkinson, "they were successful –
this other guy seemed really nice, but he had no track record".
Warner Brothers then re-released their debut album.
In 1973, the trio went to New York City to record their second
album, "8th Street Nites".
The album was produced by former Cream producer,
This was their first album to feature vocals, provided by
Hodgkinson because "we needed a singer, and I was
the least bad out of us".
Pappalardi himself also played on a few tracks.
Warner Brothers duly released the record, and a tour of
the United States supporting Emerson, Lake & Palmer followed.
Subsequent tours (usually as the support act) included one with Alexis Korner in Germany, which led to a long-lasting
collaboration between Korner and Hodgkinson, and
The J. Geils Band in the US, and a few as headliners on t
he university circuit in the UK.